Monday, November 19, 2012

'Zat You, Santa Claus? - A Radical Idea For Holiday Charity

Loading... cocking... BAM!
Finally, on to the next round.
Sorry to keep you ladies in waiting, but sifting through ALL one's earthly possessions is
no small order.
I'm forcing myself to chisel out a chunk of time for this next topic,
which is of dire importance, especially before Black Friday descends upon us and creates a
Zombie hoard that hungers for sales as though it were a matter of life or death!
If you are among this massive gathering of consumerists, I'm not hatin' on ya.
But, I want to put this out there before you feel a massive pull on your wallet.
Maybe I can appeal to your heartstrings and give them a tug in the other direction.

There is a much more urgent congregation of citizens that need $20 more than Uncle Elmer needs another pair of Santa Socks.

Homelessness is at an all time high in the US with the devastated economy,
and worldwide it is an issue beyond comprehension!
Among the homeless are growing numbers of Women and Children,
50% of whom are fleeing domestic abuse, and other's who have simply had their veritable
woven-fabric-of-life rug pulled out from under them. Just how urgent am I talking here?

The statistics of homelessness on a Global scale are stifling:

Shine Global - Homelessness For Children in the US

Homeless World Cup - 100 Million People Worldwide Are Homeless

Even if you didn't read these word for word, the titles alone paint a rather dismal picture.
So what can we do about it?

Here's your detour to some Charities of Choice that are helping put the pieces back together for those who are seeking them out:

These organizations focus on Families, Women and Children who have found themselves in the ultimate of unfortunate conditions. Within their sites, you can find ways to help,
from donating to volunteering:

If you've ever had a hard time being grateful for the cards you've been dealt in life,
I think my most valuable life lessons have been gained from
buying a homeless person a cup of coffee, and listening to their life story.
How they still have a sense of humor through all that life has thrown their way, I don't know, but some of them are the most interesting and inspiring people on the planet.
The World Cup agrees, and is a key player in fighting for the people:
Homeless World Cup

And speaking of planet, if you're feeling extra adventurous and need a true revelation,
volunteering abroad will open up your crown chakra in a whole new way.
You may have noticed these listings in my random rounds, but today they deserve a spotlight:
You will discover a whole new world, and a whole new you, in one go!

If you don't have the time to volunteer, you may also think you don't have the money.
But, you can donate anything from $5 to $50,000 dollars to most organizations.
As many have said before me, sacrifice one Starbucks, feed one who is starving.

I love this organization, because it lets you single out exactly where your money is focused, and it doesn't take much to make a big difference in someone's life:

  Seva Foundation

On the other hand, this organization let's you single out a person or family in need, but you go beyond a one time donation to helping them start a business of their own.
This goes into the "teach them how to fish" category, and can make a world of difference
around the globe. It's a gift that literally keeps on giving:

Kiva - Loans That Change Lives

There are tons of ways to contribute to those in need, as you can see above.

But, I mentioned a Radical Idea for Holiday Charity in the title.
If that caught your attention, then that's all I wanted.
While these take some guts to do,
they stay within the confines of what is safe and expected.

I had a radical idea, but as it turns out, it is too radical.
However, I can't just lead you on like that and still sleep at night,
so "Don't Try This At Home".

My idea was to hand out Santa Costumes to the Homeless.
Crazy, I know.
But I used to live in Downtown LA very near Skid Row, and as I mentioned, most of the Homeless people I've talked to have a very good sense of humor.
I was thinking, Pros:
1) They would have something warm to wear.
2) They could probably earn more money for themselves.
3) Smiles for everyone! You can't be sad while wearing a Santa suit.

And just imagine what SantaCon would be like this year!

But, eventually the Cons caught up to me:
1) I do not want to compete with the Salvation Army. They do really good work!
2) Someone is going to think this is NOT funny at all, and perhaps insulting.
(once again, this doesn't include my comrades in Downtown)
3) With the price of one Santa Costume, you could feed 10 Homeless people!

So, it doesn't fly, but it was fun to think about while it lasted.

Even still, there stands the fact that no one can help but smile at Santa.
So, if you are planning on volunteering, especially for a children's charity,
why not switch the roles around?

Did you smile? Yeah, ya did! 
Share those smiles, since laughter is the best medicine. It's a universal truth.

It was quite the challenge to find a Well Priced and Non-Sexy Pink Santa Suit, BTW.
So take advantage, because there is no dress code for entertaining at a soup kitchen, but I certainly would not recommend anything sexy. That would just be tasteless and humiliating, for you.
Not to mention, Rockin' the Bearded Lady look is totally in this season ;)

On that note, I'm off to the Salvation Army myself to donate three huge boxes of warm clothes and items I will not be needing for my move. I trust they will find their rightful place in the world.
Spring cleaning comes early for this chick.

While you ponder the above propositions, let Louis lighten the mood for you.
Then you can figure out where your Santa-like service would be
best suited for this Holiday season:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mug-Shots No More!! - How To Be Picture Perfect For Driver's License Or Passport Photos

My scary passport photo from ilaxstudio
Ever felt like doing this to your brand new ID as soon as that nice crisp envelope you've been so anxiously awaiting arrives, then you gasp in horror when what's lurking inside sees the light of day.
There have been a couple times that I was honestly surprised the picture didn't burst into flame upon contact with real sunlight.
If you find yourself in a constant position of needing to verify that you are you, but the you on the ID card photo is not at all the you you want to show off, I have some great news for you.
I'm carrying out a promise I made in a previous post.
While renewing all of my licenses, passport, and other various documentation in prep for my move, 
I attempted the impossible:

Taking a GOOD Driver's License and Passport Photo.

Guess what? Turns out it's not impossible!!
I just had to do a tiny bit of home work, and a smidgen of artistry on my end
and Blamo! I'm not going to be so shy when it comes to flashing this puppy around.

Here are the best finds I stumbled upon in my research portion of this application.
A big bear hug of a thank you goes out to these people:

Simple and straight-forward advice, I used a ton of tips from this article.
I found it unimportant to spend too much time worrying about what to wear,
since today's photos are far more close and personal than they've been in the past.
But, if you feel good, you look good, so from that perspective, dress it up to your heart's content.

Whitening your teeth prior: Hell yes!
I hadn't planned on flashing a toothy grin in the beginning, but since everything I read
recommended it, I bit the bullet, and despite my extremely angular features, 
it definitely brightened up the pic in the end. 
In such a small shot, it doesn't matter if you think a smile is flattering or not.
The proof is in the pudding, and if I can pull it off, so can you.

Tips 3-8 are just plain and simple essentials. 
Wash and style hair to your liking.
Wear heavier make-up that accentuates your features (i.e. eyebrows, eyes, and lips for sure).
Earrings were a good idea, and I did it, but they kinda got lost in my hair.
People may gawk and stare as you primp yourself up in a public office, but you probably won't be seeing them again, so get over it. You're the one who reaps the benefits, after all.
Pressed powder is a major plus, especially if you're a bit oily. Just don't go overboard!
You don't want to see the powder in the photo; that's just embarrassing.
Turning your shoulders to a slight angle is very flattering.

However, #9 is a variable to me. I have a long face and wanted my eyes to pop,
so I went with a chin down, looking up approach.
I also have a very long neck, so I wanted to tone it down a few notches.
If you want to slim your face, push your chin forward and up slightly to give more definition.
It also gives the look of a longer neck. 
Play around with your posturing in the mirror and try to commit it to muscle memory before your get the "deer in the headlights" experience.

#10: Smile, even if you doubt you should. 
And even though #11 provides a great idea for how not to blink, you can always request a redo.
In fact, demand it if you have to!

I got a few helpful hints from this video as well.
This gal is so Hollywood it almost hurts (not an insult, it takes one to know one ;).
I love some of her suggestions, her enthusiasm, and the "ovarios" it takes to shoot a 
video in the middle of any LA DMV. Bravo, Senorita!

One thing not stressed enough in the first article listed, but mentioned in this vid:
Pardon my inner Valley Girl for a moment, but OMG, contouring changes everything!

My face has some sharp and broad features, that if incorrectly lit, make me look
(well, I'll be nice) not so pretty. And they use such a harsh flash, 
it makes you look two dimensional.
Unless... you contour those features to add shadow where in nature there should be some.

For instance, I have a prominent nose, high cheek bones and a strong jawline. 
I don't have a problem with that until I get to the DMV. 
But this time, I added light shadow to the sides of my nose,
DID NOT contour my cheekbones because they are already very well defined, but DID contour my jawline including my chin, fading it in from sides to center.

With all these things in mind, look at your own photo and figure out what requires the makeover:

What features do you want to stand out more?

What features do you want to stand out less?

It comes down to three musts in the end:
Outline, Highlight, and Shade.
Ok, and bust out the powderpuff.

I guess if would be kinda vague of me not to show you a before and after, eh?
Well, if you've read all this you've earned it... I won't hold out.

You may have to quickly avert your eyes so you don't have nightmares.
This is before:

I'm almost positive I pissed off the wrong DMV clerk and they secretly photoshopped this to be as bad as possible. That cannot be me... 
Can you believe I thought I was smiling?!
My feelings about this photo when it was received in the mail, and everyday following basicly amounts to this:
Bunnies Do Scream by =MisterIngo

This is my new one, and while I wouldn't say it's perfect, the improvement is undeniable:

Not bad, if I might say. Way better than the last. I actually look like a normal human in this one.
My feelings about this one are much more pleasant:

Naoto Hattori
So just a couple more things from me and then give this a try yourself.
I'll break down the kit for you, and show you my top-drawer tools to make it happen:

1.) Eyes

2.) Brows


3.) Cheeks and Contour

4.) Lips

My pallet will not match yours exactly, so go with colors that flatter your skin type and tone.
Final notes:
1) You can't go wrong with the recommendations for the eyes.
2) Always go a shade or two lighter than your natural brow color.
3) Go for a bright but natural look for blush, and go just a few shades darker for your contouring color.
4) For almost everyone, a dark pink lip looks great on camera.

When I brought up this post to my boyfriend, smart-ass that he is and I love him for it,
he said,"Isn't vanity one of the seven deadly sins?" in jest of course.
But I still had a retort: "Yes, vanity is... but artistry is considered spiritual and even divine in most cultures, and I haven't seen any rules or regulations about what you decide your canvas is."
He liked it, and either way, I'm sticking to my guns on that opinion.

So in the name of ART: Go get yo-self a pretty picture.
Beauty is not a crime ;)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Baby, It's Cold... - Cozy Coats That Confront The Cold-Front

Winter is a-movin' up slowly,
and soon might just be creeping in to chill you to the bone.
Don't be caught uncovered! Cocoon yourself in some stylish gear that
will dissipate your desire to hibernate this coming winter.

In the usual style, shopping is best set to music, but fear not!!
Since being bombarded by Holiday elevator music is going to be your inevitable demise,
like every annual shopping season,
I am sparing you the "jingle bells" and "deck the halls" in this collection. Promise!
This is more of a chilly mix that might just warm you up by the time it's through.
If not, consider it an attribute to misery-loves-company. Shiver and chatter away
while these tracks sympathize with your severe lack of circulation:


Now, on with the anti-snow show: 

Partly Cloudy with Mild Winds

Anthracite - Jacket D Cream
James Long Cropped Leather Jacket

If the wind is kicking ever so slightly,
and all you're getting is a 
mild chill,
you don't need to bust out the heavy artillery.
Being bulky is never fun unless it's truly needed.
Light stylish jackets 
keep you just warm enough without restricting 

CryWolf Diamond Logo Zip-up Hoodie
Or keep it cute and casual with a cozy hoodie.

When the wind chill goes up a notch,
leather is a classic cold weather insulator, and looks bitchin' to boot:

         If you're haunted by wearing hides, these are kick-ass veggie friendly alternatives:


For a festive flare,
pop it up with something shiny
or something
Sequins and
electric pick
are sure to put a glimmer in the eye of the beholder.

Overcast with Light Showers

 These combine function fashion and fierce,
keeping you nice and toasty, made from materials that won't spoil when lightly
and imagine the shimmer of those spikes topped with a few dew drops.

For a heavier downpour, this should keep you nice and dry.

Keep your style fresh, and your skin dry in one fell swoop:

These wind-breakers already have fun flavor, but the bright bursts of pink turn fun to fun-k rock candy!

And these two delightful
digs? Their classic timeless appeal may just outlive any one owner, no matter how young.

To be perfectly clear,
if you're looking for a good investment with not that much out of pocket in comparison,
these are your Veronica Lake and Audrey Hepburn 
reincarnate in robe form.
Standards like this never go out of style.

Gusty Winds with a Chance of Snow

Sweet and simple, you'll look like a proper lady out on the town,
snuggled up with your neck
decked in
fuzzy fur,
and a
skirted hem
accentuates your girlish figure. 
But may I mention?: If you dare to wear them solo, you could be completely bare underneath, and no one would know-
unless you decide to put on a show.

However, girl-next-door is out of the question for fearless High Fashion Femmes:

Break the material mold with any one of these avant garde anomalies.

 If you're craving the real deal on the fur front, accept no substitutes:

There is one reason to proceed with caution on these purchases:
They will cost you a pretty penny, so be weary of crowds lugging red paint.
Otherwise, bask in the warmth of your unapologetic luxury, and knowledge that you're top of the food chain, in several ways.

Want to go Lux, but skip the guilty conscience?

Faux Fur has come a long way for it's unimpressive origin. Now it's so hard to tell, you might have to dodge some red paint without provocation.

 A classic wrap coat is a
staple for any
Fashionista's wardrobe.
It doesn't take much thought to pair up this piece, as it goes with everything.

Sleek and chic, with just enough edge,
this studded masterpiece will keep your style smoldering even when the wind tries to extinguish your
inner flame.

Want to make a stronger statement without sacrificing extra insulation?

Hard on the outside, soft on the inside.
The sturdy cotton canvas exterior will hold up against most any challenge, 
but the rabbit fur lining will keep you snug as a snow bunny in a rug.

Come Rain Come Sleet Come Snow and Fog

If braving a blizzard is in your near future, maintain your fearless fighting spirit.
Now's the time to break out the heavy artillery if you want to be the 
warrior of running your daily errands.

Siberian tigers and Snow Leopard do not fear the cold with their luxurious pelts.

ferocity in a mild mannered display
with this cuddly coat on the left.
In a torrential downpour, your ears may droop a little, but at least your real mane is well guarded.

And I'm a sucker for a nice fur-lined hood. Nothing quite measures up to being protected by fuzzy warmth around your face, especially when it's cold enough to make you feel frost-bitten.

Lovin' these!
Be properly prepared for your battle against the elements:
Hoods, check.
Zippers, check.
Belts, check.
Impermeable layers of protection that maintain smokin' style, check check.

A veritable fortress against the elements, nothing's going to get to you unless you want it to. Except for the glares of jealousy these may inadvertently inspire. 

Now, don't forget to put yourself at the top of your shopping list before Black Friday engulfs us all in shopping insanity and evaporates our spending money completely.
If it helps, tell yourself that this is to your health!
How else are you going to guard yourself against the elements and keep yourself out of the doctor's office once cold and flu season hit??
Clearly, a new coat is not a frivolous buy, it is just an absolute necessity!

Devil's Advocate?! I have no idea what you're talking about!

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The Pretty Pink Arsenal by Lauryn Otten is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.